by Kate Gilles, policy analyst, International Programs
Youth were everywhere at the November 2013 International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The young people brought energy and excitement, and played a big role in focusing attention on youth sexual and reproductive health and rights. But one key question remains: How can those who work on youth sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) help policymakers, donors, and others translate that excitement into action and change?
Those of us motivated by this youthful energy have been working to build on the opportunities that emerged from the ICFP. With the goal of advancing and improving policies that impact young people and their sexual health, PRB co-sponsored an e-forum with the Interagency Youth Working Group, moderated by FHI360 and supported by USAID, Pathfinder, and the Youth Health and Rights Coalition. From Feb. 4-6, nine discussants—including four young people, along with donors, programmers, and policy experts—joined in conversations about youth SRHR, policy, and youth engagement. You can read the discussion in the e-forum archive. Read the rest of this entry »
The demographic dividend—the idea that a decline from high to low rates of population growth can lead to dramatic economic gains—has become something of a buzzword in development circles. Sub-Saharan Africa holds the single largest block of remaining high fertility countries and while headlines tend towards thedramatic about demographic shifts there, less column space has been devoted to examining theunderlying issues causing these shifts or the other changes that will be necessary for countries to benefit from them.
Much of the decline was due to a surprisingly large drop in the Hispanic birth rate. But how do Hispanic teenagers compare to other ethnic groups on this measure? Simply put, just the same. Read the rest of this entry »
In January, the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) and the United Nations Foundation (UNF) hosted a discussion about milestones in adolescent and youth health and development. All of the presenters emphasized the need for a holistic approach to the health and development of young people—one that enables them to delay marriage and childbearing, access youth-friendly health services, prevent the onset of mental disorders and noncommunicable diseases, and thrive in a supportive environment. Amanda Keifer of the Public Health Institute highlighted that with the creation of the Bali Global Youth Forum Declaration, the global community is moving in the right direction by putting young people’s rights at the heart of development.
by Alexandra Hervish, policy analyst, International Programs
On October 11, we are celebrating the first International Day of the Girl—a movement to speak out against gender bias and advocate for girls’ rights across the globe. Given that there is already an International Women’s Day in March as well as many ongoing efforts to raise the visibility of global women’s issues, one might ask, is it necessary to devote an entire day to the girl child? The answer to that question is a resounding yes.
Although the global community recognizes that most women experience discrimination and inequality early in life, the International Day of the Girl provides an opportunity to examine the unique vulnerabilities girls face due their age as well as the lack of power over their lives. Considering that adolescent girls make up nearly 20 percent of the population in the developing world but are often excluded from civil society, livelihood opportunities, health care on the basis of gender and age, and investments in this group are critical to help nations achieve gender equality, break the cycle of poverty, and support sustainable development today and for future generations.
Last year the United Nations focused the world’s attention on the growing impact of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) on low- and middle-income countries. In regions where infectious diseases are still common, diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory diseases, and cancer are rising at an alarming rate. These diseases will swamp health care systems; and increasing urbanization and development will only accelerate the strain. What can be done?
NCDs share four risk factors: tobacco use, excessive alcohol, poor diet (and obesity), and sedentary lifestyle.
I first became interested in family planning and reproductive health during a class on health and developing countries in college. It was fascinating to me to learn how access to reproductive health has far-reaching health, economic, and societal impacts. However, I didn’t start focusing on the particular reproductive health needs and rights of young people until I studied abroad in northern Nigeria. There, I met young women and men who had frighteningly incorrect information about sexuality, pregnancy, and HIV. In the market, I saw 12- and 13-year-old girls who were dressed to advertise their eligibility for marriage, and I was told they would begin childbearing within the next year or two. When I graduated from college and started in my position as a Policy Fellow in USAID’s Office of Population and Reproductive Health, I brought these lessons with me.
Demographics has played an important role in the Arab rebellions, said Joseph Chamie of the Center for Migration Studies during a recent panel discussion at the annual Population Association of America (PAA) meeting in San Francisco. But demographics can exacerbate other serious problems, including brutal repression, human rights violations, government corruption, poverty, unemployment, religious and tribal rivalries, and a large influx of migrants and refugees. The largest refugee population in the world is in the Arab region, he said. The panel’s speakers were John Casterline, Ohio State University; Richard Cincotta, the Stimson Center; Farzaneh “Nazy” Roudi, Population Reference Bureau; and Nasra Shah, Kuwait University.
In his presentation, “Potential Upheaval in the Arab Region—Impact on Reproductive Change?”, John Casterline focused on the consequences of the rebellions, while the following speakers outlined more of the determinants. Casterline illustrated his presentation with anecdotes from his visits to the region and conversations with people, concluding that while it’s still early, “a period of dashed hope seems to be settling in.” The rebellions seem to have brought a pronatalist movement into effect, with the rejections of a “Western agenda.” Demographic data and demographic analysis have lost legitimacy since the old regime, he said. The return of electoral politics has established a direct relationship between population and political weight. Still, he added, couples ultimately make their own decisions about their households.
A young Egyptian protester holding an Egyptian flag, Cairo, Egypt. Photo: Kim Eun Yeul / World Bank
Richard Cincotta discussed “Politicodemographic Forecasts of the Rite of Democracy in North Africa.” He presented a demographic model of the region and said that in his view, the era of democratization (in its third wave) is not over, yet.
Nazy Roudi, director of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Program at PRB, presented, “Numbers Don’t Lie: Youth in Egypt.” One in four Arabs is an Egyptian, she said, and unemployment among youth in the MENA region is the highest in the world—2.5 times higher than in East Asia and South Asia. And unemployment among women is far higher than among men. She cited the Survey of Youth in Egypt 2009 in which women said the reason they did not find a job was because they believed there was no job available for the qualifications they had. Meanwhile, men responded that they were unable to find a job because they did not think that an available job paid enough. Roudi echoed Casterline’s earlier point that while government policies are important, more important is the balance of gender roles within a family, and that women feel empowered to talk with their husbands about fertility decisions. “My prediction is that the TFR is going to become higher in Egypt,” Roudi said.
HIV/AIDS in Cameroon. The preliminary report of the 2011 Cameroon Demographic and Health Survey/HIV (DHS/HIV) has been released (in French). This survey tested 13,503 women and men ages 15-49 and 699 men ages 50-59 for HIV infection. The results indicate that 4.3 percent of the 15-49 age group were HIV positive, 5.6 percent among females and 2.9 percent among males. The males ages 50-59 were 2.9 percent positive. The 2011 prevalence was lower than that reported in the 2004 Cameroon DHS, which was 5.5 percent for 15-49 year-olds, 6.8 percent among females and 4.1 percent among males.
Youth Tax in Germany. Germany is likely to impose a 1 percent additional income tax on workers over the age of 25 as a “demographic reserve” to prepare for the time when German baby boomers of the 1950s and 1960s will swell the ranks of pensioners. Official projections show that there will be 7 million fewer workers by 2025 to support retirees. Germany’s total fertility rate fell below the replacement level over 40 years ago and is currently about 1.35 children per woman.
Latest Data on the Sex Ratio at Birth (SRB) in India. Following up on an earlier blog post on this subject, progress on this measure has clearly stalled for a number of years. The national campaign against the abortion of female fetuses may be in for a difficult stretch. The graphs below update the Sample Registration System data to the period 2008-2010. Since there about 5 percent more male births than female births worldwide, a normal sex ratio at birth in India would be 950 female births per 1,000 male births. India’s SRB is the reverse of most other countries which typically show male births per 100 female births. Note particularly the two states with the lowest SRB, Punjab and Haryana. Improvement in their SRBs stopped three or four years ago. A somewhat similar trend can be seen in the five states in the second graph although their ratios are better. The national SRB in India is 905, 898 in urban areas and 907 in rural. More data from the new report will be in the next blog post.
One area that has seen tremendous growth is Nairobi’s largest slum, Kibera. While experts have given estimates ranging from 270,000 to 2 million residents, Kibera is a large area of informal settlements plagued by challenges such as the lack of electricity, job opportunities, and high levels of violence.
While it may be easier to focus on what is lacking in Kibera, there are also many services being provided in the community including affordable and quality reproductive health care by organizations such as Marie Stopes Kenya.
Marie Stopes Kenya was established in Kenya in 1985 as a locally registered nongovernmental organization. It is Kenya’s largest and most specialized sexual reproductive health and family planning organization and is known for providing a wide range of high-quality, affordable, and client-centered services to men, women, and youth throughout Kenya. In 1997, Marie Stopes Kenya opened its first clinic in Kibera and began offering reproductive health services at an affordable rate for residents.
During a visit to the clinic, I had the honor of interviewing the Kibera Clinic Manager, Pamela Warinda. Pamela is a nurse and midwife by training and has been working with Marie Stopes since 1995. She began managing the clinic in Kibera in September, 2010.